Toronto councillor pleads guilty to driving with blood-alcohol level over 80 mg
Published Monday, January 28, 2013 4:05PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 28, 2013 6:58PM EST
Toronto Coun. Ana Bailao has pleaded guilty to driving with a blood-alcohol level over 80 milligrams -- part of a plea deal that saw impaired driving charges against her, dating back to October, dropped.
“Today I appeared in court and entered a plea of guilty to the charges,” Bailao told reporters. “I do not and have never condoned drinking and driving. And this situation has made me intimately aware of the dangers this behaviour can cause.”
As a result of the guilty plea, Bailao was sentenced Monday to a one-year driving ban and a fine of $1,000.
Shortly after Bailao’s announcement, Mayor Rob Ford issued a statement saying that he looked forward to continuing to work with her.
"Councillor Ana Bailao did something wrong and she's taken full responsibility for her actions. I have faith in the justice system and the Court's decision regarding the appropriate consequences,” Ford said. “I look forward to continuing to work with her on Council."
Bailao, who represents Ward 18, was stopped by police just before 2 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2012 near the intersection of Bathurst and Harbord Streets for driving without her headlights on. Earlier that night, she had attended the mayor’s gala.
Bailao said that at the time of the incident she had a blood alcohol level of 0.130, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.
Wiping away tears during her announcement, Bailao thanked family, friends and constituents for their support over the past few months and said she accepts full responsibility for her actions.
“I made a bad choice. I take full responsibility for that and I accept the consequences.”
Bailao said she will continue to work as a councillor for the Davenport ward, and never considered resigning.
“I feel I can return to my constituents, to the issues in my community and the issues that we need to work on in the city,” she said. “The only thing I ask is for people to learn from my example.
“I felt in control when I made the decision to drive that night, but regardless of how in control you feel, one drink is too many, weighted against the potential risk to others.”
Bailao was due to appear in court on Tuesday to face the charges, which she had previously said she intended to fight.
When asked why she did not initially plead guilty immediately after the incident, Bailao cited a number of factors including being a first-time councillor and having “a thousand things” coming at her.
“Try on this side. It’s not easy,” she said.
She said after taking time to reflect over the holidays, she decided to enter the guilty plea. She said she made the decision on her own, not on the advice of a lawyer.
“I needed to do this to be OK with my conscience and my heart.”